U.S.

With rail strike looming, Biden says he has ‘not directly engaged,’ contradicting White House press secretary

President Biden contradicted White House officials Thursday, claiming he has not been in direct contact with either side in the looming national rail strike.

Biden told reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, that negotiations between unions representing railroad workers and employers are continuing. The President added that since the talks were underway, he himself had communicated directly with any of the parties.

“My team has been in contact with all parties, in rooms with parties,” Biden said. “I haven’t communicated directly yet because they are still talking.”

Biden’s comments contradict those of White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre, who said earlier this week that Biden was “directly involved” in the negotiations.

Another rail union rejects the deal and escalates the threat ahead of the holidays

President Biden, standing next to Nantucket Fire Chief Michael Cranson, left, speaks during a visit with firefighters on Thanksgiving Day at the Nantucket Fire Department in Nantucket, Massachusetts, Thursday, November 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh/AP Newsroom)

President Biden

“I haven’t reached out directly yet because they’re still talking,” Biden said. (Saul Young/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, Pool/AP Newsroom)

“The president is already directly involved,” said Jean-Pierre. “I don’t want to go into specifics at this time, but he was involved. He’s still focused on protecting American families.”

By pressing the rails, the White House will not say how Biden is “directly participating” in the negotiations

Earlier this week, the International Sheet Metal Workers, Air, Rail, and Transportation (SMART-TD) Reject a tentative agreement With the main shipping lines in the country. The union’s decision raised the prospect of a nationwide rail strike that could seriously affect the economy ahead of the holiday season.

Karen Jean-Pierre at the White House on the podium

“The president is already directly involved,” Jean-Pierre said earlier this week. (Oliver Contreras/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Management officials scramble to find a middle ground to avert the strike. At least one union official involved in the negotiations indicated that Biden was pretty much it Absent from the negotiations.

But Jean-Pierre denied such talk during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday.

There are high chances of a nationwide railway strike which could seriously affect the economy ahead of the holiday season. (Louis Cinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images/Getty Images)

“This is the third time that I say he was directly involved,” Jean-Pierre said. “You’re talking about one union president. There are 12. You’re talking about one.”

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“He was directly involved,” she said when pressed by reporters. “I won’t go into more detail on that, but you’re talking about one boss out of 12.”

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